The importance of creating all available local business profiles cannot be stressed enough. Simply claiming your business inthe Google Local Business Center can instantly skyrocket your business rankings in the Google Onebox local results. (Example of Onebox local results below) In a noncompetitive market, your profile will shoot into the top 5 upon confirming your business.
However, if you are located in a larger, more competitive area, ranking in the Onebox is not that simple. While there is no single step to instantly magic your business directly into the local search results — and outrank competitors, the following tips will go a long way to optimize your local business profile.
- Start by claiming your profile. I cannot emphasize the importance of this enough. If you do not claim your business, the odds of ranking in the local results are incredibly slim.
- Setup a basic website for your business. Having a website is not totally necessary for ranking high in the Onebox local results, but I always recommend having one. Declaring the website on your business profile connects the site to your claimed listing, which provides the search engines another source to verify your information. Very often, I see information pulled from the websites put directly into the Google business profiles.
- “Localize” your website. This is your local business profile, having your address and local phone number is crucial to allow the search engines to localize results even more. What good is a business profile if your core demographic is unable to find it?
- List a local number instead of a toll-free (800) number. The search engines are smart enough to recognize the geographical implications of an area code. As a result, a local area code will carry a lot more weight than an 800 number.
- Include the address and phone number on every page. This way, no matter where a user lands on your site, they always have that information immediately, without having to look for it.
- Mention your location in the title of every page. Titling each page with a targeted service keyword and the location tells both the users and search engines exactly what you want them to know. [Example: Carpet cleaning, San Diego.] However…
- Don’t get carried away with keyword stuffing. In the past, I have had clients who added location to every single internal hyperlink on their site. The main navigation actually read like this: Upholstery Cleaning San Diego, Area Rugs Cleaning San Diego, Tile Cleaning San Diego, etc. Keep in mind that search engines want to show you the most useful and relevant websites for your specific needs. If every result on Google was a keyword-stuffed, garbage website, you would stop using Google. Google doesn’t want to index and rank trash, users don’t want to see trash, so don’t create trash.
- List your business in as many directories as possible. The Yellow Pages and dexknows.com have packages that create online profiles, which hold decent authority with regards to search engines. However, there are also hundreds of free directories out there. To name a few:
- Windows Live Local
The more places you list your profile, the more you are reaffirming your business to the search engines. As a result, the search engines trust you more and your rank increases.
- When possible, make your profiles robust. Each site rewards you differently for listing your business. Some sites will feature you just for adding a picture or a video to your profile. Getting featured can provide a boost in rankings and increase your exposure to prospective customers.
- Interface with customers. Many of these free business directories provide a way to interface with your customers. Establish a presence and encourage feedback. Search engines crawl these pages for feedback and aggregate the reviews. Notice that Google Onebox links directly to reviews. These reviews can generate immediate trust, comfort, and credibility with prospective customers.
- Remain consistent. Make sure your business information is correct in every place it is listed. Conflicting information will confuse the search engine and undermine the trust you need in order to build a strong ranking.Also, when creating your business profiles, make sure you always choose the proper categories for your business. Listing your business in a variety of different categories from profile to profile will not get you ranked for each category. Instead, Google will recognize the conflicting information and you risk not being ranked for any categories.
- Analyze results. Always keep an eye on your rankings and how people are finding you. If you are a butcher in Peoria and you find that people around town are looking for cuts of skirt steak in your area, wouldn’t you want to be found for those keywords? Of course you would. You want to constantly be monitoring trends and how people are finding you. Based on your findings you can always adjust your keyword targeting or create new pages accordingly. The only way to know how is to know what people are finding you for, or not finding you for. The Google Local Business Center does not tell you which keywords you are being ranked for, but it does tell you how many clicks and impressions your profile receives. Edit (July 2009) Google’s Local Business Center now has a complete set of analytics. Google Analytics is the most robust free solution I usually recommend.
There is notthat much to it. Optimizing your profileis pretty straight forward. Appeal to your customers so that they can searchfor you and be matched to your services. When a customer searches for a service thatyou already offer and calls you, you do not have to sell anything. You have people ready to buy calling you, whatmore can you ask?